Directed by | Roland Emmerich
Produced by | Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser
Screenplay by | Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, James Vanderbilt
Starring | Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Jessie T. Usher, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, William Fichtner, Sela Ward, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Vivica A. Fox, Angelababy
Run Time | 129 minutes
Certificate | 12A
Plot | It has been twenty years since the events of Independence Day. During that time, Earth has harvested alien technology from the vanquished to aid them in their space defence programmes. Unfortunately, on the anniversary of Earth’s great victory, the aliens have returned – armed with much larger ships and weaponry.
Review | If not an outright classic, 1996’s Independence Day is certainly a well regarded sci-fi smash-up. From it’s all star cast to the iconic decimation of the White House, it has certainly been a benchmark for both Roland Emmerich’s work, and of sci-fi disaster movies from the mid-90s onwards. Independence Day: Resurgence doesn’t quite manage to live up to the reputation of its predecessor, but it’s certainly a heck of an enjoyable ride.
A whole heap of the original cast are back: Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Vivica A. Fox and Robert Loggia all return. A few old faces are replaced, with Maika Monrow and Jesse Usher replacing Mae Whitman and Ross Bagley respectively. These are joined by brand new characters portrayed by the likes of Liam Hemsworth, Sela Ward, William Fichtner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Travis Tope, Deobia Oparei, Nicolas Wright and Angelababy to name but a few.
If that sounds like a large cast, it is because it is. Credit where it’s due, though trimming the cast would have allowed for extra development here and there, Emmerich makes this ensemble cast work better than it should. The newcomers are here for the action, while the veterans are here to provide a steady hand (in acting, and in the quips department). As such, there is little crossover between the two groups, bar a scene early on and another near the midpoint. Some have cited this disconnect and lack of overlap between the principal characters as a criticism, but it actually makes more sense and is one of the few examples of realism exhibited.
Independence Day: Resurgence is, scientifically speaking, a bonkers film. You probably already knew this, but it really should be highlighted. Let’s not quibble about how humans suddenly has perfect artificial gravity on the moon (‘alien tech!’ I hear you scream), nor how some of the CGI really isn’t up to par in places (a scene where the planes/spaceships land in quick succession in a hangar looks like it was lifted from a video game). This is a nostalgic popcorn disaster flick, and it knows it.
That being said, a few notable things do hold it back from reaching the heights of its predecessor. For one, the first half a little clunky, if not in outright pacing (the film never outstays its welcome) but certainly in expositional script. At times it feels like we could have done with another feature, or maybe a mini-series, to bridge the twenty year gap a little better. Also, in a similar line of criticism that was levelled at Star Wars Episode VII, the final plan resembles very closely that of the what came before – right down to the point of entry. The script is also cliche ridden,and generally all over the place.
If this isn’t a classic, it is still very enjoyable. The original cast is a welcome return, and Goldblum and Spiner are particularly inspired. The new faces may have to deal with some dodgy dialogue (and none are as memorable as the original’s Will Smith) but they are a likable, if two-dimensional bunch. While moments of CGI falter, there is no escaping the sheer size and scale of the destruction this time around, and the action is pretty good. At two hours, it feels a smidge long, but it moves along at a decent clip and never drags.
The denouement allows scope for a third film. While Resurgence is no classic, it is certainly entertaining enough that we would actually look forward to it.
The Verdict | Cliche riddled but heaps of fun, Independence Day: Resurgence is an entertaining popcorn disaster movie. It will win few awards, but may win a spot on your DVD shelf.